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Historical Emissions and Free-riding

Gosseries, Axel
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In, Lukas H. Meyer, ed., Justice in Time: Responding to Historical Injustice. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft. Pp. 355-382.

abstract pendingWhile there are still many uncertainties about the prospects of global warming, it is a major concern to many around the world. According to Axel Gosseries, the problem of global warming raises a number of important normative questions, including issues of justice. For example, at what level should the global emission reduction target be set? Should the reduction effort be shared by all nations equally? Or, should allocation be made for tradable emission quotas? If so, how should quotas be allocated? These and many other questions touch upon issues of justice, and these justice issues span both national boundaries and generational boundaries. In this framework, Gosseries examines one particular question – namely, the relevance of historical emissions in the context of allocation of emission reduction obligations between countries. By “historical emissionsâ€? Gosseries refers to emissions of pollutants that occurred in the past. Some contend that those who have polluted more in the past should be granted extra entitlements through some form of “grandfathering.â€? Conversely, others maintain that those who have polluted more in the past should in fact incur extra obligations to reduce emissions. Gosseries examines the philosophical and moral aspects of these questions and the specific argument for extra obligations regarding emissions reduction.


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